Part of the reason Amazon can keep its shipping costs low is because, well, working in an Amazon warehouse is so bad, it can quite literally drive you insane. So many were looking at the first Amazon union vote with interest, and it appears, for now, Amazon won’t have a union to deal with.
The union would have been tiny: The vote was being held by equipment maintenance and repair technicians. And apparently they really don’t want a union, according to CNET:
The group, which would have been affiliated with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), voted down the proposal to form a union. IAMAW spokesman John Carr said establishing a union often takes several election cycles, but put the blame on Amazon’s anti-union tactics. It was a 21 to 6 vote.
Amazon has dodged a bullet for now, but the question is going to become more and more pressing as it expands. Many believe Amazon’s ultimate endgame is to dot the landscape with smaller fulfillment centers that deliver anything you order on the same day you fill out the form. Inevitably, more stories of problems and worker abuse are going to leak out, and draw attention.
And it was a rough holiday for Amazon in terms of worker satisfaction and safety in the first place. A temporary worker was crushed by machinery and it’s been running into increasing staffing problems as sales go up.
The question largely becomes one of timing. Amazon isn’t going to be able to avoid the unions forever, especially as its operations expand and it needs more employees. And, if reports of how workers are treated are true, eventually they’re going to unionize just to be able to sit down for more than five minutes on a break. But, hey, maybe they can get a deal on health benefits through Prime.
(image courtesy of Noelas via Flickr.)